Tart cherries, blood oranges, and blackberries come together in this dreamy dark sangria with a subtle hit of bourbon.
Coopers' Craft provided me with the alcohol to test this recipe. When I find a product that I love and trust, I pass this information along to my readers. All ideas and opinions are 100% my own.
I love sipping whiskey and trying new whiskeys, especially while watching shows where the leading characters are drinking whiskey (See: Outlander, The Crown, Mad Men).
Imagine my delight when Coopers' Craft approached me about using its 82.2-proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon in a recipe. I've been wanting to make a blood orange sangria for quite some time, so here was my opportunity.
As my husband will tell you, I was British in a former life. Our bartenders do a double-take when he orders the piña colada and I order the old-fashioned. I'm obsessed with Jane Austen novels and spinoffs. My prom dress was inspired by the epic thriller known as Shakespeare in Love. You could say whiskey runs in my blood.
Which brings us to the sangria of my royal blood: The Blood Orange Bourbon Sangria. It's one part old-fashioned meets two parts spiced wine.
- 1.5 cups of bourbon, such as Coopers' Craft 82.2 proof
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 small bag of frozen, pitted cherries (better if you can get them fresh, when in season)
- 1 (750 mL) bottle of Spanish red wine (I used Rioja, but there's also Tempranillo & Garnacha)
- 2-3 blood oranges, sliced
- 1/2 cup tart cherry juice
- Start by making the bourbon-soaked equivalent of Luxardo Maraschino Cherries, which will help offset the smoky bite of your bourbon. This step adds additional resting time to your recipe, but in my honest opinion it's worth it. I essentially halved this recipe by Michael over at Inspired By Charm. Heat your bourbon and sugar in a saucepan, stirring on low heat until your sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then add pitted cherries. Allow the cherries to marinate in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
- Pour your cherries and bourbon into a glass pitcher. Add sliced blood oranges and blackberries. Add your wine and cherry juice.
- Place your pitcher back in the fridge for another 8-12 hours. You'll thank me for waiting.
- Mix your sangria one last time, then pour into glasses filled with ice.
Optional expedited version of this recipe:
- Make your bourbon and simple syrup with cherries as before. Instead of letting the cherries marinate overnight, immediately add to pitcher filled with oranges, blackberries, wine and cherry juice. Let flavors sit overnight. Serve the next day on ice.
Tasting notes for Coopers' Craft 82.2 proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
The Nose: will singe the hairs off your nose if you get too close. This stuff is the real deal! It smells like an oak kiln that's been charred by one of Daenerys Targaryen's dragons.
The Taste: Sharp, toasty, and warm. It initiates a warming sensation in one's chest like a good whiskey should. Small sips are advised!
The Finish: Earthy and smooth.
I had no idea what went into making a barrel of whiskey until I took a virtual tour of the Coopers' Craft factory. These folks manufacture their own barrels in a trade called "coopering," which gives them complete control over the flavors present in their bourbons. It's a labor-intensive process that involves stacking the wood, drying the wood, planing the wood, joining the wood, bending the wood, charring the wood, sealing the wood, conducting quality control checks...all before the whiskey can even be added!
Another four years has to pass before the whiskey can be sold to the public. It's a long journey from tree to bottle.
The benefits of blood oranges
The star ingredient of this recipe is its blood oranges. This reddish orange is available in most grocery stores from December through April – I purchased mine at Whole Foods. Using fresh ingredients ensures the best cocktail possible.
Unfortunately, cherries are in season during the opposite time of year (in the US) – from April through September – so you'll have to use frozen cherries to make this recipe work.
While you can't get frozen blood oranges during its off-season, you CAN get blood orange puree from Amazon and beverage supply stores. I'd recommend using the concentrate + regular navel oranges if you're making this drink between April and December.
Much like their navel cousins, blood oranges are high in antioxidants, fiber, folate, and vitamins C, A, and B. So load up on leftover ingredients when you can get them!
Can I make a virgin sangria?
To make a blood orange "mocktail," simply pour a 1/2 oz of blood orange puree into a shaker filled with ice. Add the juice of one squeezed lemon. Then add 4 ounces of ginger ale. Shake and strain into two cocktail glasses.
Keep reading to see how I made these sugared blackberry garnishes!
Can I turn this into a layered cocktail?
You betcha. I made what's essentially a Blood Orange Bellini (with Rioja instead of Prosecco) by adding blood orange puree/concentrate to the bottom of a tall wine glass. Always add the concentrate first because it is the densest liquid. Then add half of a squeezed lemon poured over the back of a spoon. Lastly, fill the remainder of your glass with sangria (also pouring the sangria over the back of a spoon).
You'll end up with this very macabre looking cocktail!
Sugared sangria blackberry garnishes
You can also use this sangria to make delicious Sugared Sangria Blackberries! This is a fun way to use up leftover sangria if you make a large batch for a gathering. Dry red wine would also work fine for the marinade.
Simply soak your blackberries in sangria overnight. The next day, strain and toss them in sugar. Place them in the freezer for two hours and voila! Frozen spiked blackberries.
Now onto the recipe card!
Blood Orange Bourbon Sangria
- glass pitcher
- cocktail glasses
- 1.5 cups bourbon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 10 oz dark cherries, pitted (frozen if not in season)
- 750 mL Spanish red wine
- 2-3 whole blood oranges, sliced
- 1/2 cup tart cherry juice
- Heat your bourbon and sugar in a saucepan, stirring on low heat until your sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then add pitted cherries. Allow the cherries to marinate in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
- Pour your cherries and bourbon into a glass pitcher. Add sliced blood oranges and blackberries. Add your wine and cherry juice. Let pitcher sit in the fridge for another 8-12 hours.
- After letting the sangria sit, stir with a stirring rod one last time and pour into glasses filled with ice.